Founded by Lucien Castaing-Taylor in 2006, Harvard's Sensory Ethnography Lab promotes innovative combinations of aesthetics and ethnography, especially in film, video, sound, and photography. The Sensory Ethnography Lab has been honored with retrospectives around the globe, including as part of the 2014 Whitney Biennial in New York, and has produced some of the most acclaimed and groundbreaking documentaries in recent years.
|Buy entire collection
|Get 35% off
|Buy 10 films
|Get 30% off
|Buy 5 films
|Get 25% off
An immersive marvel of sonic ethnography, Expedition Content draws on audio recordings made by recent college graduate and Standard Oil heir Michael Rockefeller as part of the so-called Harvard-Peabody Expedition to Netherlands New Guinea in 1961
SO DEAR, SO LOVELY
In this two-part tour through the streets of Lebanon, a colorful Palestinian cab driver offers offhand insight into the regions fraught political and social climate through boisterous serenades and excitable outbursts.
An oneiric journey through Alex's life as a former guerrilla leads to a reckoning with the devil inside of him. His only cure is ayahuasca, sacred plant used by the indigenous community where he comes from. As both a perpetrator and victim, Alex exemplifies the complexity of the Colombian conflict and the difficulties of simply moving on.
HOW TO RUST
From the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University comes a postindustrial fable told in iron, rocks, and wood. A unique look at Detroit artist Olayami Dabls’ installation “Iron Teaching Rocks How to Rust”
INTO THE HINTERLANDS
The Detroit-based performance ensemble, The Hinterlands, practice a form of ecstatic training which they see as a provocation towards the unknown. The “hinterlands” evokes an unknown space both physical and imaginary whose mystery is its very source of generation and from which true creativity emerges. Their practice is one of ecstatic play, of finding the edge of one’s balance, and the limits of one’s body.
Meet Lee and Opal, an elderly couple living in the Appalachian Mountains. Recorded over three years, Linefork is an observational film about marriage, community, resilience, and the raw yet delicate music of an unheralded banjo legend, linked to the past yet immediately present.
A singular appreciation of waste processing " graceful, mesmeric, almost balletic " Single Stream plunges viewers into the steady flow of a materials recycling facility where hundreds of tons of refuse are sorted each day. Yet another revelatory documentary from Harvard"s Sensory Ethnography Lab Single Stream locates the beauty, efficiency and futurism of an industry built on our culture of excess.
AS LONG AS THERE'S BREATH
Following the acclaimed Kale and Kale and Monsoon- Reflections, As Long as There's Breath is Stephanie Spray's third film documenting the lives of the Gayeks family in Nepal. Building on a deep bond of trust (Spray was eventually adopted by the family), she captures a multi-generational household struggling for cohesion after the departure of a beloved son.
A revealing one-shot portrait of two Nepali newlyweds in a moment of rest and playful interaction, Untitled challenges our perception of two themes at the very core of ethnographic filmmaking: human relationships and the ways in which they can be experienced by the viewer.
KĀLE AND KĀLE
In exploring the lives of two wandering Nepali musicians, an uncle and nephew, Kāle and Kāle (pronounced kah-lay) exposes the rootless occupation of the Gaine caste and communicates both its joys and pitfalls – domestic, economic and spiritual – in their daily lives.
Drawing its title from a poem by the renowned Nepali poet Lekhnath Paudyal, which depicts the monsoon season as sublime and blissful, “joyous from start to finish,” filmmaker Stephanie Spray captures the melancholy and grit of two strong-willed female field hands (passengers in Spray and Velez’ Manakamana) as they carry out their arduous routines; a deeply felt reflection on labor, gender, and fleeting pleasures in rural Nepal.
THE YELLOW BANK
A short documentary that captures the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century, The Yellow Bank takes you on a contemplative boat ride across the Huangpu River in Shanghai, China. The film uses the eclipse as a catalyst to explore the way weather, light, and sound affect the urban architectural environment during this extremely rare phenomenon.
In northeastern China, the Songhua River has for generations served as a vital center – for leisure, commerce, and most importantly, drinking water – for the people of Harbin. Filmed only one year after a major chemical spill in its waters, Songhua depicts the enduring and complex relationship between the city’s residents and their "mother river," and considers the environmental implications of the waterway’s condition.
DEMOLITION / CHAIQIAN (拆 - 迁)
Focusing on a vast demolition site in the center of Chengdu, the Sichuan capital in western China, a bustling site emblematic of the rapid growth and development occurring throughout the country, J.P. Sniadecki’s Demolition is a wonderfully patient and revealing portrait of the migrant laborers who work and live in its shadow.
TERRACE OF THE SEA
Filmed in an unofficial Palestinian Bedouin camp that was established in 1948 on a stretch of beach in South Lebanon, Terrace of the Sea uses a collection of family photographs taken over three generations as a prism through which to reflect on memory, loss and history.
"The Arab governments pushed us out of our homes… I was twelve years old… I’ve been here for 60 years." A beautiful, poignant, documentary, Still Life examines the effect a collection of personal photos showing life in Palestine before the 1948 displacement have on an elderly Palestinian fisherman living in exile in Lebanon.
Produced by the directors of Sweetgrass and Leviathan, Manakamana is an exhilarating, one-of-a-kind documentary experience. Filmed entirely inside the narrow confines of a cable car, high above a jungle in Nepal, that transports villagers to an ancient mountaintop temple, it is an acute ethnographic investigation into culture, religion, technology and modernity.
A collaboration between two Chinese artists, Xu Ruotao and Huang Xiang, and acclaimed American filmmaker J.P. Sniadecki, Yumen is a documentary-fiction hybrid that tells the story of a ghost town, a once-thriving oil-rich community in China's western Gansu province, through a series of wandering characters and inventive vignettes. Produced with the support of SEL
Produced at Harvard's groundbreaking Sensory Ethnography Lab (Sweetgrass, Leviathan, the upcoming Manakamana), People's Park is an exhilarating single shot documentary that immerses viewers in an unbroken journey through an urban park in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, offering a fresh gaze on public interaction, leisure and self-expression in China.